Sometimes you have to go back 2500 years to find something that resonates deeply with the present. That’s what
director Lewis Campbell did in re-mounting a play originally presented in Greece in 415 BC. There are no resurrections
in this play, no romantic love, nothing transcendental—only an examination of the bitter fruits of a war culture that
believes you must decimate your enemy. It’s the end of the Trojan War—“O Troy’s down / Tall Troy’s on Fire,” wrote
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. What we see is “the Trojan women”; what we feel is the immensity of their pain. They believe
that the Greeks have emerged victorious—at their expense. Yet a conversation between two Greek gods, Athena and
Poseidon, at the opening of the play makes it clear that the conquering Greeks too will be decimated as they sail home

in “victory.” There are no winners in this play.

Campbell prefaces the production with “Refugee Voices,” a short, touching reading of various statements by refugees

and he closes it with the famous Emma Lazarus poem of welcome to immigrants, “Give me your tired, your poor...” In
between is the open wound of Euripides’ vision. I visited Syria in 2003—before the “troubles” began—and everything
about the evening made me remember the wonderful people I met there and the suffering they have had inflicted upon
them in the past fifteen years.

The cast is excellent, speaking Edith Hamilton’s translation of the Greek and making us experience it as near
contemporary speech.  Marjorie Crump-Shears as Hecuba is a stand-out, bringing us near to tears at every moment

of her performance. But everyone does well. It’s always a pleasure to see MET regular Vernon Medearis in any
production, and there are strong performances by Federico Edwards as both Poseidon and Menelaus and Lily Tung
Crystal as the tragic Cassandra. Heather Lukens is excellent as Andromache, a strong mother in great pain as her

child is taken from her.  Joanna Mahaffy makes a lovely Helen of Troy (“You’ll hear poets tellin’ of / Lovely Helen of /
Troy,” wrote Cole Porter). Part of Euripides’ Chorus is wittily presented as a War Correspondent, complete with
hand-held microphone (also Joanna Mahaffy, but now wearing glasses). The production is also enriched by the almost
balletic movement that Campbell has choreographed into Euripides’ play: the actors move and pose with grace around
the small area of the stage. It’s a reminder that Greek tragedy also included dance.

It’s important to note that Euripides’ play was presented to GREEKS—the very same people who have caused suc
h
pain to the women we see before us. What does it mean to be Greek, to be a warrior, to kill a woman’s husband and
then take her as your slave? Not without reason does Campbell refer to Euripides as a playwright/activist. Not without
reason too was a comment someone made to Campbell: “How relevant this play seems.” In the wake of the #ME TOO
movement, we can recognize clearly the deep power of women even in the enlightened albeit patriarchal time of
Eurip
ides. Philip Slater’s book The Glory of Hera (1968) points out that the great Greek hero Hercules’ name means
“The Glory of Hera”—the glory not of his father but of his mother.
Refugee Voices and Euripides’ The Trojan Women
Multi Ethnic Theater at the Royce Gallery Playhouse
Mariposa @ Harrison in San Francisco
September 27 - October 21  --  8 pm Thu /Fri / Sat   --  2 pm Sun
REVIEW
Jack Foley
Poet / Writer / Critic
KPFA-FM  Radio Host